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Bid for 20mph limit in Herne Bay High Street

By Jack Dyson

Plans to cut the speed limit to 20mph in Herne Bay High Street and outside primary schools have moved a step closer.

Town councillors have unanimously backed proposals to reduce the limit on safety grounds.

But a driving campaigner claims the move will encourage “mindless obedience” and lead to more roads in the town being made 20mph.

Terry Hudson in Herne Bay High Street
Terry Hudson in Herne Bay High Street

Terry Hudson, of the Alliance of British Drivers, said: “This idea sounds all right when you’re standing in the High Street at midday when there’s a lot of traffic, but what about at 2.30am?

“At that time most people are in their beds, so it’s a stupidly slow speed. Lowering the limit encourages mindless obedience and slows everything down. I think people should drive to their conditions, not to a number on a post.

“Gradually more will roads will become 20mph.”

Preliminary plans involve lowering the speed on the High Street between the junctions of Lane End and Canterbury Road, as well as those outside all of the town’s schools.

They received unanimous support from councillors at last Tuesday’s Area Member Panel meeting.

Mr Hudson has instead suggested only implementing 20mph limits outside schools during drop-off and pick-up times.

He added: “Putting a blanket limit in place is punishing everybody for the mistakes of the few. The current speed of 30mph in the High Street is OK, but there seems to be a total obsession with speed limits when we should focus on how people drive. I know the councillors are very keen on it, but that’s more party policy than real life. I don’t think they’re being honest with themselves.”

Town councillor Andrew Cook has hit back at Mr Hudson, claiming the aim of the Alliance of British Drivers is “to make sure drivers can do anything”.

Herne Bay Cllr Andrew Cook
Herne Bay Cllr Andrew Cook

He argues reducing speeds will increase pedestrian safety and improve trade in the High Street.

“Currently, it’s unfriendly towards pedestrians and unhelpful to the businesses there as shoppers can’t get from one side of the road to another without using a crossing,” he said. “They would find it easier to cross a road when cars are travelling at 20mph. We need to look at this in order to continue regenerating Herne Bay.

“There’s a 20mph limit along the High Street in Whitstable, and we’re catching up.”

A report written by council officers outlining the proposed changes noted alterations to the High Street’s “street scene” would be needed to ensure drivers will comply with the limit.

Cllr Cook says this could be done by “chicaning traffic with parked cars” or by changing road surfaces.

He added that traffic around schools needs to be brought “under control”.

“It’s purely a matter of safety,” he said. “With all these kids going to and from school, it’s just common sense to protect them. People have been knocked down. Imagine if you’re a driver who knocks a child over, the devastation would live with you.”

The plans require approval from KCC, as well as the support of Kent Highways, before they can be implemented. Cllr Cook hopes it will start to be rolled out “within 18 months”.

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